tv Inside Story Al Jazeera May 12, 2014 11:30am-12:01pm EDT
others: >> now the proud graduate from the university of kentucky, very nice package for jonathan martin. i'm michael yves. "inside story" is next. for news o updates go to our website the www.aljazeera.com. in 30 years of deadly strife, known as the troubles. recorded reminiscence of the bad old days become the subject of a legal battle and it's the inside story. hello, i am ray swarez. in 1972, a mother of ten named jean mcconnell was taken from her home and disappeared from her belfast neighborhood. she was presumed dead her
body was not found for 30 years. her killer or killers was never punished. attention focused on recordings made by an interviewer and oral historian under the hospices of boston college. mar tis pants were assured their identitied would be protected but prior toish pros it prosecutors were not playing along. the arrests of shin feign leader in connection with the killing was a reminder of the troubles unanswered questions. the so called hard men of northern ireland strife, those that wanted to join the irish republic, ore keep their hometowns in the united kingdom, still walk the streets today, along with their victims and their victims survivors. point four
days in jail last week, he was questioned in connection with the abduction and murder of gene mcconvoy. adams maintains his innocence, and has always denied he was a member of the ira. >> i am conscious there's another way at the heart of all of this. and that is the family of gene mcconnell. let me be very clear, i am innocent of any involve innocent in any conspiracy to abduct, skill, or bury mrs. 4:00 con dell. i have worked hard with others, to have this injustice addressed and is for the return of bodies of others kills during the conflict, and secretly buriedly isn't to do so. >> helen is gene's daughter. she wants to know why her mother was dragged out of her home, by members of the ira, and killed for allegedly being a british informant. >> i will do anything to get to see who killed my mother behind bars. i have to believe.
that's what makes me keep going. i have to believe that one day i will see justice for my mother. not just for my sake, for my children and grandchildren. >> her body was discovered in 2003, along with 15 others. dumped in unmarked graves in the county jerry adams now represents in the parliament. the shadow of her murder has hung over adams throughout his career, as the political voice for the republican movement in northern ireland. but the police arrests may not have happened if not for the audio recordings of interviews with former i.r.a. operatives. mccon veal was one of thousands killed in the violence of the troubles, a dark time in northern ireland's history, where street battles raged between the british army, and mostly partisan forces and mostly catholic component whose wanted to be a part of ireland.
horrible atrocities were committed on both sides. >> i urge all of our guests from northern ireland, and all the parties concerned, to put aside all extremism for the common good of peace. >> in 1998, a peace accord was reached, dubs the good friday agreement, then british prime minister tony player and ireland's leader, spent two years in negotiations and finally brought peace to the island nation, after 30 years of conflict. in an effort to preserve the stories of those terrible years as thens withed aged and died, boston college in massachusets commissioned the belfast project. between 2001, and 2006, journalist id maloney and former ira member, conducted interviews with those who
participated in the conflict. the men conducted dozens of interviews with former pair militaries all done with the promise of confidentiality until death. boston college was founded to serve boston's irish catholic immigrant community, it preserves the recordings in an archive, a british law enforcement agency investigating the crimes of decades past, including the mccon veal murder, sought the recordings as evidence, and used legal and diplomatic leverage with the united states to get them. i don't know there's no basis for charges against men. >> adams was not charged. he says his arrest was politically motivated and aimed at disinstruction, among the parties who have maintained ask uneasy peace, and a changed political relationship since the 1998 accord. the fate is uncertain now, 46
people were interviewed, there are 200 recorded conversations. this week, boston college said it would return the tapes to anyone who can prove they were interviewed. >> post conflicts societies around the world have dealt with the unfinished business from the bad old days before. south africa, chile, scam bode yeah, argentina, even made it's own decisions, but the unresolved questions linger, the crimes and their victims of the past, sometimes set aside in the interest of making peace today. boston college, northern ireland, and the memories of the troubles this time on the program. joining us for that, ed maloney, journalist and leader of the boston college project, who was president george w bush's special envoy for the northern ireland peace process and is now president of washington college in maryland, and veteran journalist and a historian of the conflict
between republicans and unionists in northern ireland. ed maloney, let me start with you, what was the deal you had with people that you were encouraging to tell what they knew from those days? >> well, the deal essentially was encapsulated in a donor contract that was drawn up. which gave them to use the quote from it the ultimate power over disclosure. of the interviews that they gave, until they died at which point, the interview would be owned and become the property of boston college. in other words, this donor contract basically said no one else was allowed to invade this interview, or have a look at this interview, without the permission and say so of the interviewee. and a recent investigation by the chronicle of higher education, has demonstrated, we asked boston college to run this donor agreement, which is the crucial document, past it's lawyers
and we were assured this had happened and it was on the base that is we had this assurance of legal security, is that the whole project went ahead. otherwise, it would have been still born. that was the basis of it, but let me just correct one or two mistakes in your introduction there. interviews did not receil this story. this was known about in 2002 when i boat about it in a book that i wrote -- and at that point, the police in northern ireland shows no interest at all in the story. and not only that, but the price who we did interview for boston college, first of all did not mention the gene mccon dell case, but she did give interviews in ireland, to newspapers, yet the police there didn't go near those newspapers with subpoenas or seeking them, instead once they realized
there was a controversy of impossible intelligence over in boston, they issued these subpoenas and i have always regarded this as a bogus operation by the police, designed to collect information and intelligence, rather than solve the mystery of gene, whose death, incidentally went unrecorded as a murder in northern ireland by the authorities and by the police for more than 20 years and there was never a proper investigation. into her death. so this whole episode raises as many questions as it gives answer. >> you were interviewing citizens of one country, about events in that country. while you were meant to keep this information in yet another country. it was always going to be a tricky thing, wasn't it? wasn't there the possibility that someone would come fishing for it, and it would put a lot of pressure on that agreement of confidentiality. >>
well, no, the idea of depositing this in was very deliberately done, some of they want had an unfortunate record of volunteering confidential information to the authorities. that had not yet happened in the united states. but also, you have a written constitution, and is you have a first amendment, and you have all these rights which are embedded in law and constitution. america was the ideal place for it, we took enough transmitting this material, to ensure that that possible of being intercepted really could not happen. obviously, what happened was that we entered into this
arrangement under the mistaken belief that the it was safe and secure. and once the book was written about brenden hughes. one of our participant whose had asked that his interview be published after his death, the police realized oh my goodness, a lot of material, let's go and get it. it also happens to be hear say, and i bet my bottom dollar, that all of these charges and threats of charges, against people, will evaporate because that's the only evidence against them, and hear say evidence of is zero value, and most courts will throw it out. unless it is supported by something like a confession. that seems very very unlikely. this whole affair could well end up in a legal fiasco, with no one going to court, no one being prosecuted at the end of the day that's what this is about, and i think what the police are doing now, in arresting people is a face saving exercise designed to justify what they did, which i think was ale toking exercise
looking for intelligence. >> is northern ireland far from being a place that is fully come to terms with it's past. it still has a long way go. >> it was the american author said there is no future just history repeatingist. that's the story of ireland for 414 years from the first day that it was a british settlement per se or plantation, on the island. by the british. and it's really goes on and on and on these scrimmages at one period it is very valuable, and then post 1998. we have the good friday agreement and relative peace and calm.
relative peace and calm, you just heard amonday, is that so delicate. that the kind of very settle winks that people gave to'm other to stop the fighting could all come undone? is ins a society that is getting back on it's feet, unless there is some new evidence or spark, i suspect that this will continue to be an issue, but it's not going to stop the northern ireland
people from trying to improve their society and is trying to carve out better futures for themselves and their children. >> you have is to say, if you are going to pick any place, it was unlikely to be belfast. we will take a short break, and when we come back, we will talk more about the agreements that ended the fighting in northern ireland. and whether they included a willingness to put aside the past, at least for a time. you are watching inside story.
welcome back to inside story. on this edition, we are talking about the troubles in northern ireland, and how a history project brought back the bad old days and brought the questions that surrounded the peace back into the headlines. take us back to the years surrounding the good friday agreements. and the years that just followed. countries around the world,
have had to decide what to do in those few years of peace. how to deal with this, whether to bring people to trial right away, whether to do in question investigations. pull out secret files. or whether to just let the past lie for a while. what did northern ireland choose? you know, many people don't realize, every bomber, every gunman, everyone involved in acts of violence, who had been in jail right up until that period, was released within two years of the signing of the good friday agreement. now, that didn't solve is the problem in terms of the legacy issues. there are mccon veal families today, on all sides. prosesty saints, catholics
members of the security services members of the ira, all permanent reorganizations. mccon veal homes because members of their families were blown away, obliterated in the so called troubles. and some of those cannot come to terms with the fact families like the mccon veal family , ten children left without a mother, the father had died earlier, the mother then was abducted, shot, and buried and found some 30 years later, buried by a man out walking on the beach. so there are mccon veal families like that, and dealing with the hurt and pain, that's the lingering legacy, that's one that is lingering here, and no serious effort, by the british or the irish, administrations. has been put in place. to grapple and deal with the
situation. to pen this structure in place that's our dilemma. we needed george mitchell, mitchell was here. we always need somebody from outside, to police these big issues for us. from sweden, norway, etc., dealing overlooking, helping us out in a difficult situation. >> mitchell, you were one of those outside errs and listening to mali talk about people who are unreconciled some of the people that helped run the new dispensation, the new method of governing this place. who either acknowledged their past openly, or had rumors swirling around them, what they did during the six isties 70's and 80's. how did that work.
were people ready to set aside and reach across the table, to people who they u.s.ed had blood on theirnd has. >> it was reached and people are looking for justice. they are looking for answers to all of these terrible traumatic events that took place. so how do you reconcile the history with the present. decide that they are going to pay that price. they are going to pay that cost, upfront, and do the best they can, in reconciling what can be reconciled afterwards. part of the problem alluded to is that the government sometimes tried to impose solutions.
to come to a reconciliation upon all the victims. in my experience, that really is not the way to go forward. it has to be organic, it has to come from the bottom up. everybody has their own story to tell, everybody has their own process of reconciliation. you have to respect each and every one. you can't have a one size fits all, and the state is certainly can't try to impose that on a society. >> ed maloney, apart from criminal prosecution, now that we are 15, 16 years on from the good friday ard cos, is northern ireland a society that's more ready to hear some of the stories you heard from the people who are combatants? >> oh, i think they are. but what people are frightened of is going to jail. being dragged into court, having toga there the shame of a trail, etc. #e i think if there was a process, if there was a project in place, which allowed people to tell their
stories, perhaps penalize those that didn't. you though this might be a way forward. you know the problem with the peace process, is is that it was a top down effort. leaders -- sometimes in great secret, conspiring away for mccon veal years. produced this agreement and it didn't come from the bottom up, and when it arrived as it were, on people's doorsteps to a lot of people it was a surprise and a shock. for them, for ordinary people, the conflict has not ended and the arguments over the past has become a surrogate for the conflict. and in that way the conflict continues. and it really has -- you know i know mitchell is trying to put the best appearance on this, but i really do think it has the potential to cause an awful lot of instability, and there are proposals.
the chief legal officer in northern ireland, who is the attorney general, has suggested that we just draw a line under the past. and move on. i personally think that peas a very sensible idea, but i do think as well there's a need to get a truth telling process underway. and mitchell and myself, when he is george bush's envoy, had discussions about this, and mitchell brought forward some very good ideas. he suggested that a boston college type project, modeled on stephen spielberg's show up project over in california which people told their stories and their experiences of the holocaust. would enable victims, for example, to come forward and to tell their stories and get a big weight off their chest. one thing we noticed doing this project is the first time a lot of these people had talked about things that they had done.
and it had a cathartic effect, but it also has a therapeutic effect. and i think that is also very necessary in a piece building process like this. >> ed maloney, boston college, responded to our request for an interview with a written statement. they said several -- given our desire to accommodate their requests and the extensive criticism directed toward project director, and interviewer anthony mcintyre regarding alleged biases in their selection of interviewees it was the appropriate decision to make. and maloney, we will get your response to that after the break, we will take a short break, and when we come back, we will talk about the future of this story, and is the future of the people of northern ireland, this is inside story.
real reporting from around the world. this is what we do. al jazeera america. welcome wac to inside story. you heard the statement from boston college, they did make some effort to hold on to those tapes and fight back. eventually they had to surrender them, how do you respond? >> that's the whole point, they didn't put up the fight that they could have put up, they didn't mobilize all the
resources that they could have, when we fell at the first hurdle they said they would not appeal the decision, they would only appeal the number of interviews. we were very strongly critical of them, and relations between ourselves and boston college have soured as a result. that's the reason for these very inflammatory remarks by boston college's jack dun. and this is, of course, new, because when this was going, they were happy with it, and when the book voices from the grave was produced as a result of the archive, they were ecstatic and they wrote the forward to the book, and they called it an extraordinary is semiand seminalled and, and they said we witch to acknowledge the tireless and fruitful work of the project coordinator ed maloney, whose personal contacts professional skills and established reputation as an accomplished journalist and historian were an asset in this undertaking. so is what happens between then and is now? what happened between then
and now is that sevenly boston college flunked the challenge that the subpoenaed presented. that's another aspect that we haven't discussed. this has been a devastating plow so the prospect of people in american colleges undertaking confident usual research. >> some people have already asked for their tapes back, and mccon veal haven't, but may still yet. before we go today, is there a generation of young politicians coming up who as we have just seen in the elections this week in south africa, are children of freedom? in this case, children of peace, who don't carry around the legacies of the 70's and 80's with them, and may see the future in a different way from us old heads? >> the big ethical question here is, ray, is the family going to have to live with the injustice visited pong itself, and is the interest of permanent peace.
if the leaders of republicanism, the leader of are arrested rounded up and jailed, will this peace process hold? that's the big challenge. i don't think that politicians have moved sufficiently forward to guarantee us that our past is over. that we are moving into the future. that's the reality of northern ireland, even today. >> so there is still a lot of chapters still to play out. >> i think that's exactly right. and let's recognize the current generation of politicians, did something very difficult and very important. which is they were able to move from a conflict into a much more peaceful society. maybe that's all we should expect, and i i do this there is a younger generation, that does have a different outlook, that is more optimistic, that has a different future for northern ireland in mind, and those are the people we out to be cultivating and those are the people we out to put our bets on. >> are we talking. years, 20 years something
sooner than that? >> hard to say. a lot of it will depend on some of the outcider toes that amonday referred to, but i think this generation of political leadership has done something very important, but perhaps it is time for them to start to move off the stage, and allow a new generation to come in. >> mitchell reese, ed maloney, gentlemen, thank you for talking with us today, and that brings us to the end of this edition of inside story, thank you for being with us, the program may be over, but the conversation continues. we want to hear what you think about the issues raised on this or any day's show, log on to our facebook page, or send us your thoughts on twitter. or you can reach me directly at ray swarez news. see you for the next inside story, in washington, i'm ray swarez.